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Legal Breakdown: Fair Housing Poster

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This is a transcript from the Legal Breakdown Video on the Fair Housing Poster. Gabe is joined by Anthony Lyne, Diversity Committee Chair, and Joe Henry, Diversity Committee Member, to give an update on what they have planned for 2022 and why brokers need to know about the Fair Housing poster. The poster was created by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and needs to be properly displayed in your office. 

Scroll below the video to read the transcript. You can view this video via IAR's YouTube Channel if you prefer.

 

Gabe Walsh: Hello Iowa Realtors, welcome back for another legal breakdown. This time I have some special guests. We have an important topic. We're going to talk about fair housing loss today. I also have with me chairman of the Diversity Committee, Mr. Anthony Lyne, as well as member of the IAR Diversity Committee, Joe Henry. We have some very important topics to talk about today. We're going to talk about the importance of fair housing, but we're also going to talk about the fair housing posters. You need to listen (read) very closely because there could be dire consequences if you don't get this right. Before we get there though, Anthony, tell us a little bit about what IAR has been doing with its Diversity Committee.

Anthony Lyne:  The IAR Diversity Committee was founded almost exactly one year ago. Our agendas and goals were made up from members all across the State of Iowa and it was made possible in conjunction with the Iowa State Extension and Outreach Program and also the Past Regional Vice President of the NAACP.  With that, we had a two-day strategic planning process where we went over what our zero to six month goals are, our six months to two year goals, and then two year to five year goals. All of this was made possible and just to foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable and has equal opportunities within the real estate community and outside of that as well too. So in 2021, we dipped our toes in a little bit. In 2022, we fully plan on submersing ourselves. And this minor topic that you'll hear more about in a second is just one minor thing that we're asking you to do that can have major impacts throughout our organization.

Gabe Walsh:
Absolutely. And Joe, you've been dealing with a lot of fair housing, diversity and inclusion issues throughout your career. I know it's been a priority of yours. Tell us a little bit about why fair housing is so important, why we're talking about it today and why brokers need to understand the importance of the fair housing poster.

Joe Henry:
Well, it's important because we're helping people with buying homes, with also renting, and it is a big investment and we need to make sure that we're treating people equally, fairly. Laws have been fought for, especially during the 1960s and civil rights laws, that really built a foundation to make sure that everybody regardless of sex, creed, race, color, so forth and so on, are treated fairly, that we are all welcomed when we go into a real estate office. We need to make sure that happens to make sure that everybody has their rights in force.

Gabe Walsh:
Absolutely. And as part of what our Diversity Committee's been doing, making sure that the consumers, who are part of the transaction, feel like they're really getting the representation that they deserve in every transaction. And that's why we thought it was important to talk about this fair housing poster today. So what brokers need to know is there are these fair housing posters that look something like this. This poster is created by the federal government through Housing and Urban Development, and this poster in 11 by 14 format has to be displayed in anyone’s office who is in the business of selling residential homes. That sounds like it relates to all or most of our members. 

Gabe Walsh:
The poster needs to be prominently displayed. Every brokerage you walk into, right? When prominently displayed, what are we talking about?

Anthony Lyne:
Well, Gabe, I think prominently displayed would probably be at a front door entryway. Again, this is to show our future clients that we do have their best interest at mind. So probably behind a copy machine or by the drinking fountain probably wouldn't be the best place to put this.

Gabe Walsh:
Because we want the public/consumer to see this poster. The people who are coming in to engage services of a real estate professional.

Joe Henry:
Exactly. We want to make sure we are welcoming the community when they come in. Clearly, what this sign says is it is illegal to discriminate against any person because of race, color, religion, sex, handicapped, familial status, or national origin. We want people to see that so that they realize that they are welcome when they come in because there are concerns that people have, especially people of color, of what type of service they will get when they come in the door. So we want to make sure we are welcoming them when they come in.

Gabe Walsh:
Absolutely. And when you look at the nuances of this from a legal standpoint, when you look at the rules and regulations, this needs to be anybody who is selling residential properties as part of their business, pretty much any of our members, right? You need to have it primarily displayed in your office. Another important nuance that I think people forget though, if you are selling a residence as part of a new construction development or there's multiple properties, HUD actually says it not only needs to be displayed in the real estate broker's office, it needs to be displayed on those properties during the construction period.

And if you can't have it at every single one of the new construction projects, you at least need to have it at the model units or any offices where those builders are on staff at those developments itself. So that's very important.

Joe Henry:
Exactly. And it really is incumbent on the agent to really be forward-thinking about this, be prepared, have that poster with you when you do that open house. You can put it right there at the front door. Welcome people with this poster.

Gabe Walsh:
Absolutely. And to just be clear, if it's a resale, single family, not new construction, it doesn't have to be displayed at the property, but it absolutely needs to be displayed at every single brokerage office location. And look, it's not only the law, it's part of who we are. But from a legal breakdown perspective, from a risk management perspective, what is  important is if somebody were ever to have a complaint with the Civil Rights Commission or with HUD filed against them, or if anybody had a housing, fair housing lawsuit filed against them, what HUD's regulations say is if a broker does not have this sign posted in their office, that is evidence of discriminatory conduct and will be used against that real estate professional for not having it displayed. So it is important. 

Joe Henry:
Well, yes. And clearly you are right. And we are here to build communities, not divide communities.

Iowa Association of REALTORS

This article was written as a collaboration of IAR Staff members or invited subject matter experts.